Taking on the budget smartphone market is getting tough these days, but RIM's new Curve 9320 is well-placed to achieve success.
The new phone is a re-tooled version of the last iteration, the Curve 9300, and brings with it a very familiar design.
The screen is a similar 2.44-inch effort, which sadly hasn't been updated from the qVGA offering we saw last time around. This means that things are a little pixellated, although the smaller size helps mitigate the effect.
It's odd that this isn't seen as the sequel to the Curve 9360, but the slick design and style of that phone (plus the price) put it more towards the Bold range
We've seen a variety of keyboards from the BlackBerry range recently, but the Curve style of separated, lozenge-shaped keys are back in full force, making it very easy to peck out a message.
The slimmer dimensions of the Curve 9320 means it can be a little harder to tap out a message than on the swarthy expanse of the BlackBerry Bold 9900, but it's still miles better than trying to achieve the same thing on a touchscreen.
In terms of ergonomic design the Curve 9320 is pretty standard fare, with all the relevant buttons placed in easy to reach places. The top lock button is well placed given the smaller dimensions of the handset – anyone coming from the larger, 4-inch-plus touchscreen devices of today will be amazed at the ease.
The 3.5mm jack is also on the top of the phone, making it much easier to connect up your pair of snazzy BlackBerry headphones (note: snazziness is debatable) to control music and the radio and suchlike.
On the subject of key placement, you may have noticed that there's a new addition to proceedings in the shape of a dedicated BBM key that takes you to, well, the BlackBerry Messenger application.
And it works very, very quickly indeed – it's testament to the improved speed of BlackBerry OS 7.1 that the whole operation of the Curve 9320 is very slick.
From opening and closing applications to web browsing, the whole experience is one of buttery smoothness… and even a phone heaving with RSS feeds and Twitter accounts (which can all be accessed through the Social Feeds app, which is now included) doesn't hurt the process.
The camera is 'only' a 3.2MP effort, but given the Curve 9300 was packing a 2MP offering this is a big step up – and our swift tests (which also showed that the snapper will start up in next to no time) gave a decent reproduction with a very quick pic.
The FM radio is also included, which is a decent enough effort. Admittedly, an FM radio was a cool feature a million years ago in a phone, but RIM is impressed enough with the functionality to shout about it.
You can access it through other apps, such as Nobex, but then again, any phone can use that. But the Canadian firm was so excited about it that we felt we had to at least mention it.
The BlackBerry Curve 9320 is a budget handset with some, dare we say, unattractive styling in the chassis.
But at only £130 on PAYG and as little as £15 on contract per month, there are more than enough reasons to check this out.
The Curve is packed with a decent OS that still stays relatively relevant, although is creaking a little now. But those that have been stuck with the Curve 8520 so far and only have a few pennies with which to upgrade will be startled by the quality on offer.
The keys are well spaced, the screen acceptable and the overall speed of functionality, plus the BBM key, all add up to make a cracking phone for the thrifty BB lover. Not a handset for the smartphone snob by any means, but it should be enough to keep RIM well placed in the handset market for a few more months.